Swiss authorities could sue Nigeria over seized oil tanker: local report

Swiss authorities are considering legal proceedings after failed diplomatic efforts to secure the release of oil tanker, San Padre Pio (IMO 9610339) which has been blocked in the bay of Biafra for more than a year, according to local reports.

The tanker and its 16 Ukrainian crew were being investigated by Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), in Port Harcourt, River State. The vessel was handed over to the EFCC by the Nigerian Navy’s Forward Operations Base in Bonny, Rivers State. The suspects were arrested on January 23rd 2018 by a Nigerian Navy Ship, NNS SAGBAMA’s patrol team for allegedly operating illegally in Nigerian waters against the provisions of Nigerian Cabotage Trade Law.

The EFCC said in March that the suspects would soon be charged in court.

Diplomatic efforts to release the ship appeared to have failed and the Swiss authorities were now planning legal action, according to the SonntagsZeitung newspaper.

The case was set to come before the UN-affiliated International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. “Switzerland should make full use of all means to safeguard its interests. The country considers that the seizure of the vessel constitutes a violation of international law,” the foreign ministry told SonntagsZeitung. The Swiss foreign ministry asserted that four Ukrainian crew members remained on the ship in “difficult conditions”. The rest of the crew was allowed to leave the ship around a month and a half after the initial incident.

2012-built, Switzerland-flagged, 5,422 gt San Padre Pio is owned by San Padre Pio Schiffahrts AG care of manager ABC Maritime AG of Nyon, Switzerland. It is entered with North of England Club on behalf of ABC Maritime AG.